Daniel Bluman and Gemma W Dash to Victory in $300,000 FEI Grand Prix CSI4* at HITS Championship
On Sunday, HITS Saugerties welcomed 42 of the world’s top horse and rider combinations to its newly renovated facility in upstate New York for the biggest event of the year – the $300,000 FEI Grand Prix CSI4*. The field was narrowed to six for the tiebreaker, where it was a race to the finish with clear rounds produced by each of the final three athletes. Israeli Olympian Daniel Bluman was the last to return and proved to be the best of the day, beating fellow U.S. Olympian McLain Ward and Contagious by less than 2/10ths of a second. The youngest rider of the day, 17-year-old Zayna Rizvi, produced the first double clear of the day with Exquise Du Pachis to round out the top three.
“Gemma W and I have been together since she was 5 years old and she’s 12 now, so we’ve been together seven years,” expressed Bluman after his win. “She’s won multiple classes in her career. She’s a very fast horse, a real trier, with lots of quality. She really has a great personality too – we love her very much at the barn. We’ve grown together in these last seven years, and she’s a very reliable horse when you put her in the right classes.”
Oscar Soberon set an exacting track for the world-class field of riders competing during Sunday’s main event in the Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Stadium. It featured a triple bar on a bending line to a vertical-oxer-vertical triple combination, which was followed by a wall fence. Riders finished with a technical final line away from the in-gate that began with an oxer-vertical combination to a skinny vertical and concluded with the wide oxer.
“When you look at the results and who made it to the jump-off, I really enjoyed seeing a mix between seasoned riders and up-and-coming riders,” said Soberon. “That shows that it was rideable. There were poles everywhere, which I think was good. It’s a special 4* because it’s a $300,000 class and it is the last class of the season here. I’m pleased with the result.”
The course was narrowed down to six to return for the jump-off, where they had to begin over the triple bar, followed by a bending line with a new vertical to the double combination. Athletes then jumped the wall again followed by the last vertical in the triple combination and finished with a gallop to the last oxer on the course.
Zayna Rizvi and Exquise Du Pachis were the fourth pair to return for the jump-off and the first to leave all the rails safely intact. Her hasty time of 41.27 seconds was also the fastest thus far, but with two Olympians hot on her heels, she knew the door was still open. McLain Ward and Contagious were next to tackle the track, making up time in the turns while wasting no time in the air. They galloped through the timers in 40.16 seconds with each rail in place to take over the top of the leaderboard.